US Defence Secretary James Mattis. (File photo: Xinhua/Ye Pingfan)
WASHINGTON, July 27 (Xinhua) -- US Defense Secretary James Mattis said Friday that his country is considering sending military personnel to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to search for the remains of US soldiers who died in the 1950-1953 Korean War.
Mattis struck a confirmative tone when asked by the media whether he foresees the possibility of sending military personnel to conduct additional search missions in the DPRK.
"That is certainly under consideration. Absolutely," he said.
Earlier on Thursday, the White House said a military aircraft carrying the remains of US soldiers had left the DPRK and was transferring the remains to the US Osan Air Base in South Korea, where a formal repatriation ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 1.
Mattis said the move is a "coordination effort" over the past month.
"Clearly what we have here is something that has been frozen for -- for years now, and so that's warmed up," he said, noting that returning the remains was agreed upon by President Donald Trump and the DPRK's top leader Kim Jong Un at the Singapore summit in June.
"When you have that sort of communication going on, it sets a positive environment, a positive tone for other things, more important things in terms of international diplomacy," he added.
US Vice President Mike Pence said earlier that he would travel to Hawaii to receive the remains.